Gene-environment interactions begin at conception to influence maternal/placental/fetal triads, neonates, and children with short- and long-term effects on brain development. Life-long developmental neuroplasticity more likely results during critical/sensitive periods of brain maturation over these first 1,000 days. A fetal/neonatal program (FNNP) applying this perspective better identifies trimester-specific mechanisms affecting the maternal/placental/fetal (MPF) triad, expressed as brain malformations and destructive lesions. Maladaptive MPF triad interactions impair progenitor neuronal/glial populations within transient embryonic/fetal brain structures by processes such as maternal immune activation. Destructive fetal brain lesions later in pregnancy result from ischemic placental syndromes associated with the great obstetrical syndromes. Trimester-specific MPF triad diseases may negatively impact labor and delivery outcomes. Neonatal neurocritical care addresses the symptomatic minority who express the great neonatal neurological syndromes: encephalopathy, seizures, stroke, and encephalopathy of prematurity. The asymptomatic majority present with neurologic disorders before 2 years of age without prior detection. The developmental principle of ontogenetic adaptation helps guide the diagnostic process during the first 1,000 days to identify more phenotypes using systems-biology analyses. This strategy will foster innovative interdisciplinary diagnostic/therapeutic pathways, educational curricula, and research agenda among multiple FNNP. Effective early-life diagnostic/therapeutic programs will help reduce neurologic disease burden across the lifespan and successive generations.
About The Expert
Mark S Scher